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November 07, 2016

Comfort Food Makeovers: Gluten-Free Versions of 7 Favorite Dishes

Sweet potato brownies

You’ve cut gluten out of your diet. You feel a ton better: no more digestive upset, weird mood swings, inflammation or bloating. You’re loving how your body is running like a well-oiled machine ... and all you want is a slab of Mom’s classic tuna noodle casserole.

The shift to a gluten-free diet may mean that many of the comfort foods you may love – or have grown up loving – might now be off the list of things you can eat. But there are some seriously delicious, seriously simple comfort food makeovers that will please both your gluten-free sensibilities and your stomach.

Buffalo chicken

Missing the floury, battered, saucy temptress that is buffalo chicken? No worries: instead of dusting your chicken with all-purpose flour and coating it with store-bought buffalo sauce, dip it instead in a mixture of almond meal, olive oil, garlic powder and oregano, then whip up your own homemade buffalo sauce with equal parts melted butter and hot sauce, plus a splash of apple cider vinegar and a pinch of garlic powder.

Zucchini lasagna

Instead of layers of wheat-packed lasagna noodles, use strips of zucchini cut lengthwise (about ¼-inch thick). Stack up all of your other ingredients, including cheese, ground meat and sauce, as usual, then bake. The zucchini will soften beautifully, so you won’t even miss the noodles.

Stuffed shells

On a cold autumn evening, there’s nothing quite like a tray of stuffed pasta shells oozing with cheese. Instead of that gluten-filled version, pack that cheese, sauce and chopped vegetable mixture into bell peppers. Simply remove the stem, seeds and membrane, fill and bake under foil as you would with shells.

Baked macaroni and cheese

In place of traditional macaroni noodles, quickly-steamed cauliflower makes a great base for mac and cheese casserole. Once you’ve steamed your cauliflower florets, toss them with your cheesy sauce and bake in a casserole dish, topping with gluten-free breadcrumbs or crackers for a little crispy texture.


Sadly, Grandma’s meatloaf was held together with eggs and a pile of day-old white bread. Reinvent this for your gluten-freedom using gluten-free oats instead. You can substitute oats in the same quantities as breadcrumbs, and you’ll get a significant nutritional boost: oats provide complex carbohydrates for energy, about a third of your daily fiber needs, plus Vitamin B, magnesium and protein.

Hamburger buns

Instead of a bun, wrap your homemade quarter-pounder in a crisp collard leaf: not only will this be more nutritious, it’ll leave you more space for your favorite toppings,like cheese, sautéed mushrooms and bacon, just to make your meal extra comforting.


Nothing says comfort food quite like brownies. You can feel free to indulge your gluten-free sweet tooth with a batch made from black beans (instead of flour) and topped with a luscious avocado chocolate frosting. Guilt? None. Gluten hangover? None. Just simply delicious, nourishing comfort food.

Hungry? Get the full recipes and time-saving shopping lists on PlateJoy.

- Amy Height

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